Friday, January 15, 2010

Q -- This Land is Our Land

The road to Boomerville. Dust in the wind!!
SKP Happy Hour
Waiting for the show.
Nanc and Paul -- Someone is way over dressed.
Hi Jolly Monument

We knew from the directions, when pavement ends go south on dirt road for a mile and a half, that we were in for a different experience. We have "dry camped" in national parks and forests a couple of times but we have never done a week in the desert (no electricity, no water, no potty) other than what we have in the rig. We arrived at Quartzite, Arizona staying in Boomerville on BLM land with a bunch of boondocking SKPs and there is no better way to learn how to live off the grid. Some people here have been on the road for over 15 years and one couple had just started fulltiming last month. Another couple did 240 days in the wilderness last year and for others like us it is their first time. Because a screw in the tire of the CRV (we were saved from disaster by our Pressure Pro) delayed us, we did not arrive until dusk. Our 07 mates, Marty, Bill & Leslie and Jim & Bobbie, were there waiting to help us pick a good spot. You can park just about anywhere but you do want to avoid the washes, the rattlesnakes and sandy ground. The next day dawned with the usual SKP socialization and introductions to many new friends. That afternoon we went to the Escapees' happy hour and found several people we had just met on the Rose Parade HOP as well as Mark Nemeth and Denis Hill, two of the instructors from RV Boot Camp. As is always the case, there was food, friends and entertainment. It was then back to the Boomer happy hour for more of the same. These people know how to have a good time anywhere. Boomerville is not just about the socialization and fun, they have daily group sessions on many topics of interest like solar power, boondocking, traveling and geocaching.

The town of Quartzite is a small burg (3650) in the middle of the desert along I-10. In January and February the population swells to over 50,000 as thousands of RVs from tent campers to Prevost buses descend on the campgrounds and BLM land that surrounds the town. There are continually changing events, from a gem show to the sport, vacation and RV show to the Bluegrass Festival and many more throughout the winter. Snowbirds from all over North America come to enjoy the activities and the warm desert weather. Traffic on Main Street can be as crazy as any big city as shoppers look for big bargains cruising the various "permanent" vendors who stay the whole season. The desert and the surrounding mountains are an attraction in their own right. The sunrises (you go to bed and get up early when you can't waste your batteries) and the sunsets have been spectacular. The first evening as we were sitting and watching when a man came by and asked, "Waiting for the show?" and he was right it is quite a show. At night (no electricity) the stars seem like you can just reach up and touch them. The Milky Way was spectacular. So far, this time in the desert has been great despite a "little" dust and some wind.

One Q must do is a stop at Reader's Oasis Books owned by Paul Winer who has been running a store here for 16 years. Paul is quite an interesting character who, as a Goddard College grad, has taught, been a poet, singer-songwriter, sign painter and cartoonist. Paul has done all of this sans clothes and as a result has been in court 64 times, winning all the cases. We spent a few minutes talking and as you can see Nanc got the obligatory picture. The store has a great selection of books, videos and Cd's that range from old and nearly new. We even bought one of his Cd's from the 70's when he performed blues boogie music as Sweet Pie. Don't miss a chance to check out this little desert oasis.

Another must see is the Hi Jolly Monument in the Quartzite cemetery which pays tribute to Hadji Ali who was brought here from Syria as part of the US Army's failed attempt to use camels in the desert Southwest. After the experiment ended, Ali stayed in Q prospecting and doing other jobs. The old cemetery is also well worth a visit.


Valerie said...

So glad to hear you are ok - thanks again for encouraging us to add the Pressure Pro to our rig. We'll do "the Q" sometime, looks like a great gathering of folks.

MarkandRenita said...

Nice post. Quartzite in January is on our list so keep blogging about it.